23. The English Coast
From Candide by Voltaire (1759)

Candide and Martin go to the English coast, and what they saw there.

"Ah! Pangloss! Pangloss! Ah! Martin! Martin! ah! my dear Cunegonde! what a world is this!" said Candide on board the Dutch ship.
"A very foolish and abominable one indeed," replied Martin.
"You are acquainted with England, then," said Candide, "are they as great fools there as in France?"
"They have a different kind of folly," said Martin. "You know that these two nations are at war about a few acres of snow in Canada, and that they have spent a great deal more upon this war than all Canada is worth. To tell you precisely whether there are more people who ought to be confined in a madhouse in one country than in the other, is more than my weak capacity is able to perform. I only know in general that the people we are going to see are very melancholic."

As they were talking in this manner, they arrived at Portsmouth. The shore was covered with a multitude of people, who were looking very attentively at a pretty stout man who was kneeling, with his eyes bandaged, on the deck of a ship of war; four soldiers, that were placed opposite to him, shot three balls apiece through his head, with the greatest coolness imaginable, and the whole assembly went away very well satisfied. "

"What is the meaning of this?" said Candide, "and what demon is it that exercises his dominion all over the globe?

He inquired who the stout gentleman was that was killed with so much ceremony.

"He is an admiral," replied some of them.
"And why was this admiral killed?"
"Because," said they, "he did not kill men enough himself. He attacked the French admiral, and was found guilty of not being near enough to him."
"But then," said Candide, "was not the French admiral as far off from the English admiral, as he was from him?"
"That is what cannot be doubted," replied they. "But in this country it is of very great service to kill an admiral now and then, in order to make the rest fight better."

Candide was so astonished and shocked at what he had seen and heard, that he would not set foot on shore, but agreed with the master of the Dutch vessel (though he was sure to be robbed by him, as he had been by his countryman at Surinam) to carry him directly to Venice.

The master was ready in two days. They coasted all along France. Passing within sight of Lisbon, Candide gave a very deep groan.

They passed the Straits, entered the Mediterranean, and at last arrived at Venice.

"The Lord be praised," said Candide, embracing Martin, "it is here that I shall see the fair Cunegonde again! I have as good an opinion of Cacambo, as of myself. Everything is right, everything goes well; everything is the best that it can possibly be."